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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Corporate Interests: How the News Media Portray the Economy

  • Author(s): Kollmeyer, Christopher J.
  • et al.

This study examines contradictory claims about the news media's coverage of the economy. After discussing various sociological perspectives on news media, I compare the objective performance of California's economy, as measured by statistical indicators, to accounts of the economy found in the state's largest newspaper—the Los Angeles Times. The data reveal that, despite growth patterns that overwhelmingly favored economic elites, the negative news about the economy disproportionately depicted events and problems affecting corporations and investors instead of the general workforce. When the Times did discuss problems affecting workers, the articles were relatively short, most often placed in the back sections of the newspaper, and rarely discussed policy alternatives to the status quo. Moreover, unlike the viewpoints of business leaders and government officials, the viewpoints of workers or their spokespersons were rarely used as sources of information. These findings provide qualified support for existing scholarship purporting that the news media, when reporting on the economy, privilege the interests of corporations and investors over the interests of the general workforce.

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